Monday, June 30, 2014

Calm before the storm...sort of...

Free Agency looms as Minnesota Wild ponder their options in short, long term

It's June 30th. The last day before the start of NHL Free Agency, also known as 'Silly Season', where teams outbid each other for the services of veterans whose contracts expired the previous day (i.e., today).

So, what are the Wild going to do to improve their roster, without breaking the bank, or worse than that, trading away their prized young players, whom GM Chuck Fletcher has stockpiled over the last four seasons, while trying to resurrect the franchise after the disaster left behind by Doug Risebrough left the cupboards bare after years of trading away second-and-third round draft picks for the likes of Bill Muckalt and Chris Simon?

For once, fiscal restraint during the previous season proves fruitful, as the Wild have nearly $17 million to spend on free agents (including five of their own restricted free agents). The fact that they can get in the free agent sweepstakes at ALL is proof that what Fletcher is doing -- selective shopping for the right type of player, one that will fit the system that Coach Mike Yeo has instilled in the Wild, during the end of last season and last season's two-round playoff run -- is actually working.

It definitely is at the box office, where about 3,000 fewer seats for each game will be available when individual regular-season tickets go on sale in late August or early September. This means several million dollars in the Wild's bank, even before the first pre-season game is played in Winnipeg on Sept. 22.

Nobody knows what is going thru the collective mind at 317 Washington St., St. Paul. Both sides -- owners AND players -- are sworn to secrecy, written into the latest CBA. They can talk generalities, all right, but not numbers or specifics -- supposedly. But do you, dear Wild fan, actually BELIEVE that numbers haven't been passed across a table or two?

Me neither. Let's all see tomorrow, starting at 11:00 AM, Central time. Together.